Walking With The Father: June 2015

June 25, 2015

Hail Holy Queen

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve:
to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us,
and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Catholic Prayers

June 18, 2015

On Vacation With The Lord

Going on a silent retreat is like taking a “vacation with the Lord.” All the distractions and responsibilities of life are removed during this time so that you can clearly listen to the still small voice of God who speaks to the heart. Recently, I went on a 30-day silent retreat following Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. The experience was the best “vacation” I ever had. This may sound strange when you think of all the exotic places one can travel to and the many activities available to those planning a holiday.

Alas, no piña coladas or strawberry daiquiris were served on warm tropical beaches during this “vacation,” nor were tourist sights visited and photographed. Rather streams of living water poured forth from within quenching all thirst of the heart that seeks its Creator and purpose in life. The month of intense prayer allowed me to glimpse the eternal destination of our souls. The countless hours of meditation on the life of Christ and his plan of salvation allowed me to know more personally this child born in the manger of humble beginnings that would give his life on the cross some 33 years later.

The Ignatian practice of praying with the imagination and entering the scene of scripture events allowed me to travel back in time some 2,000 years ago and experience the world that Jesus knew as he walked among us. The spiritual exercises have the retreatant repeatedly pray with the events and teachings of Jesus for five 1-hour prayer periods each day. Throughout the month it was as if I was listening to Christ’s voice first-hand, or watching him perform the signs and miracles among the crowds as I joined in their awe and bewilderment as he: multiplied the loaves, raised Lazarus from the dead, and calmed the storm with his words.

During these 30 days I spent most of the time alone in a small room with a desk, a bed, and a sitting chair. The nearby chapel and countless acres of peaceful grounds for walking and reflection provided the perfect environment for the encounter with God. While such solitude may seem extreme to some, it provides quality time away from the busy and noisy world which often prevent us from hearing and seeing God’s presence in our daily life. The silence allows you to enter into deep: prayer, reflection, meditation and conversation with the Divine.

The term “Spiritual Exercises” rightly gets its name. I cannot believe how much material we covered in that month. I came out from the retreat totally exhausted from this marathon-like experience. It was not always easy to pray 5 hours a day for 30 days straight. The schedule made for full days when you add daily Mass, journaling time after each prayer period and your time out walking in nature. You have a little human contact each morning as you meet with a Spiritual Director for one hour. He listens to how your last 24 hours of prayer went, and guides your next 24 hours of scriptural meditations depending on your progress.

While the 30-day silent retreat is not for everyone, and requires a large commitment of time, I encourage you to think of planning your own “vacation with the Lord” one week this year, or even just for the weekend. It may end up being your favourite holiday. Besides, you will love the company.

Answering the Call

June 11, 2015

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

I wish it were part of the school curriculum of mandatory books you read in high school because Lewis addresses many common questions people have when wrestling with belief in God and the core teachings of Christianity.

If you have not yet read this book, put down what you’re reading and start this one. It will knock your socks off. I have read this book several times, and it continues to provide insight and draw me closer to my faith. Lewis puts aside the areas of debate within Christian denominations and reminds us of the similarities of what we all hold true. His style is logical, and he uses reason to arrive at belief in God – he confesses that he was once an atheist.

This book comes from his radio talks in the 1940s that have been adapted for print. There is no doubt that Lewis is brilliant and has a gift for expressing his thoughts and questions clearly. Lewis puts into words what many of us have felt or thought, yet we have struggled to articulate ourselves. Lewis’ conclusions make sense and are helpful for both someone searching for answers, and the devout person of faith. Treat yourself to an amazing book and read this timeless classic! You’ll thank me for it.

Book Reviews

June 1, 2015

Trinity Sunday (homily)

more homilies

Saint Anthony of Padua

On June 13th the Church celebrates Saint Anthony of Padua. This saint from Lisbon Portugal is one of the 35 Doctors of the Church and probably best known for his help in finding lost articles. Most people I know have a story about when they lost something and then asked for Saint Anthony’s intercession to help them find it with success. Tradition tells us that a young novice at the monastery stole Anthony’s psalter. When Anthony prayed for its return, the thief was moved to return it and did so. I’ve heard some people pray this prayer when they have lost something and seek Anthony’s help: “Saint Anthony of Padua please look around; something is lost and must be found.”

Anthony was the greatest preacher in his day, and was known for his eloquence in speech and boldness in his message. Some called him the “hammer of the heretics” when it came to explaining the faith and correcting error. There are many stories of miracles attributed to him – including one where a sea of fish gathered near him to listen to his preaching when the people refused to. Aside from St. Thérèse of Lisieux, I think Anthony may be the most prayed to Doctor of the Church.